What controller and engraving head should I get?

I have a few years old unused Trinus 3D-printer that I was planning to convert into a laser engraver. I actually have a 2W laser head for it still in a sealed bag, but I need something that can mark anodized aluminum. So the plan was to ditch the original controller board and use just the frame and the stepper motors. Which controller and laser head would you recommend and where to source them? The use would be 100 % marking small aluminum parts.

If you wish to directly mark aluminum parts, there is no laser that will probably be effective in the low price ranges. Most of the time a co2 laser is good for natural materials and a fiber (galvo) type for man made materials. So a fiber or galvo type is probably what you need. These start at around $3k.

There are coatings that the laser can react with to cause it to bond to aluminum.

If it’s to remove the anodizing that seems to be something you can do. If it’s a plain aluminum part, I think you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Galvo lasers are available, but the cost is prohibitive to most hobbyists.

Good luck


I got the idea from this YouTube video by Clough42: Will a Diode Laser Engrave Anodized Aluminum? | xTool D1 - YouTube

Apparently the LED laser just burns the color away from the aluminum oxide layer. To me his results looked really nice, so I am still looking for a decent quality LED laser head and some board to control the motion and PWM for the laser.

Most of these will remove the anodizing.

Pick one you have seen will do what you want. You can figure out the wattage and find something comparable. Co2 lasers are usually measured by power out whereas LED types are generally power in and the output is usually around 10% of the input power. Many advertise with 20% out, but I doubt that… IMHO…

As far as Lightburn, it will operate on most of the grbl controllers that are available. They range in costs from the $30 at the low end through the expensive more commercial type controller at ~ $300 or more. Most of the time a small machine works fine with the low end grbl processor

There are boards that have 32 bit capability are available. They usually have a 16 bit based pwm system compared to 8 bit. The 16 bit has more ‘steps’ for more accurate laser control.

Good luck